Court Jails Passenger For Smoking On-Board Air Peace Plane

FILE PHOTO: Air Peace plane

 

A passenger caught smoking on-board Air Peace plane has been found guilty by a Magistrate Court sitting in Ogba, Lagos and sentenced to two weeks imprisonment with the option of paying N200,000 as a fine.

The passenger was seen smoking a cigarette and was accosted by the flight attendant, Adewale Oyebade while carrying out his routine safety checks.

According to a statement released on Wednesday by the Corporate Communications Executive of Air Peace, Stanley Olisa, this act contravenes a standing global aviation regulation of non-smoking in-flight.

READ ALSO: Three Nigerian Pilgrims Abscond In Israel

He stated that Oyebade’s safety consciousness reiterates Air Peace’s commitment to global safety standards of protecting passengers and aircraft from harm.

The Air Peace flight P4 7558 was heading from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Lagos, Nigeria on December 11, 2019, when the incident happened.

Olisa further advised intending air passengers to make it an obligation to comply with all established flight safety standards, adding that such measures were meant for their well-being.

Onyema Denies Fraud Allegation, Says ‘I Never Laundered Money In My Life’

 

Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has denied allegations that he laundered more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts, a claim credited to the US Department of Justice.

According to the Justice Department, Mr Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud.

In a statement issued by his lawyer, Mr Onyema claimed that all allegations are false and do not reflect his personality as a business owner.

”I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every kobo I transferred to the U.S. for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria and all were used for the same purpose.”

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He insisted on his innocence on all the indictment and said that the U.S. government will find no dirt on him because he has never conducted any illegal business.

American Laws Go After Those Who Break Them…

Meanwhile, Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, has asked Mr Onyema to face his accusers, stressing that the US Government only go after those who break their laws.

In a series of tweet, the President’s aide said that the Federal Government is yet to be briefed about the situation.

“I do not understand what President Muhammadu Buhari has to do with Mr. Onyema of Airpeace being indicted and charged in the USA.

“According to our Attorney General, the Federation, the Government has not even been informed of the situation; American laws go after those who BREAK them.”

She lamented the way funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta have been looted.

Onochie said: How much has Nigeria invested in the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, NDDC & 13% derivation funds? All, mostly in a black hole Do we know the extent of poverty, ignorance & disease in the Niger Delta? Please let America help us see how Niger Delta underdeveloped Niger Delta.

“Those of us from the Niger Delta who are the direct beneficiaries of the sufferings that emanated from the looting of our wealth will tackle them. It’s our war that is being fought. Laws, Nigerian or American, go after those who break them so we must mind our business.

“We are smarter now than ever before. Gradually, the scales of tribalism, religious affinity and political loyalty, are falling off our eyes and being replaced by Nigerianism.

“Nigerians are not keen on tales by the moonlight. Let him return to America and face his accusers,” she added.

See Lauretta Onochie’s tweets below:

US Govt Charges Air Peace CEO With Bank Fraud, Money Laundering

 

The United States has charged the CEO of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema, with bank fraud and money laundering.

According to a statement issued on Friday by the US Department of Justice, Onyema had moved more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.

“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, said.

“We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”

He further stated that the airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, had also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.

This comes weeks after the airline’s boss had been celebrated for the humanitarian roles he played in the wake of xenophobic attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians in South Africa.


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I Never Expected Commendation Or Award, Onyema Tells Reps

AIB Probes ‘Serious Incident’ Involving Air Peace Plane


He had volunteered his airline to fly Nigerians stranded in South Africa back home at no cost.

The gesture was not only appreciated by Nigerians but recognised by the Federal Government.

Consequently, he was invited to the House of Representatives, given a standing ovation and recommended for a national award.

The US is, however, accusing him of setting up “various innocent-sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam”.

But Mr Onyema has denied these allegations.

“All allegations are false and are in no way in line with my character as a person and as a businessman whose only aim has been to build Nigeria,” he was quoted in an interview with This Day newspaper.

 

 

See the full statement below.

CEO of Nigerian airline indicted for bank fraud and money laundering

ATLANTA – Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, the Chairman, CEO, and founder of Air Peace, a Nigerian airline, has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.

The international airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, has also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.

“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We will diligently protect the integrity of our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”

Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented on the indictment, “Allen Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt. DEA would like to thank the many law enforcement partners and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aided in making this investigation a success.”

“This case is a prime example of why IRS-CI seeks to partner and leverage its expertise in an effort to thwart those seeking to exploit our nation’s financial system,” said Thomas J. Holloman, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office.

“With the importance of our banking system to the movement of money around the world, those attempting to use intricate schemes to commit bank fraud through the use of falsified documents and other means should know that the odds are now heavily stacked against them as law enforcement is combining its talents to protect the sanctity and integrity of the nation’s financial system.”

“Onyema setup various innocent sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “I’m proud to be part of a team of law enforcement agencies that come together to identify and attack criminals that attempt to profit from the exploitation of our nation’s financial systems.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Onyema, a Nigerian citizen and businessman, is the founder and Chairman of several organizations that purport to promote peace across Nigeria, including the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, and All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited.

Beginning in 2010, Onyema began travelling frequently to Atlanta, where he opened several personal and business bank accounts. Between 2010 and 2018, over $44.9 million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources.

Onyema is also the CEO and Chairman of Nigerian airline Air Peace, which he founded in 2013. In years following the founding of Air Peace, he travelled to the United States and purchased multiple airplanes for the airline. However, over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft allegedly came from bank accounts for Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.

Beginning in approximately May 2016, Onyema, together with Eghagha, allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema. The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five separate Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace. The letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia.

However, the supporting documents were fake — Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist. Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well, directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager’s identity to further the fraud. After Onyema received the money in the United States, he allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts.

Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria, were indicted on November 19, 2019, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit credit application fraud, and three counts of credit application fraud.

Additionally, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, and Eghagha was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce, and Department of Treasury are investigating this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Garrett L. Bradford, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section and Lead Strike Force Attorney, Irina K. Dutcher, and Christopher J. Huber, Deputy Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Office of International Affairs.

This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime.

The specific mission of the Atlanta Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets or Regional Priority Organization Targets and their affiliates impacting the Atlanta metropolitan area and the Northern District of Georgia.

AIB Releases Preliminary Reports On Incidents Involving Air Peace

AIB

 

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigeria has released the preliminary reports on serious incidents involving three aircraft owned and operated by Air Peace Limited.

The preliminary reports are not the final reports as they contain details of the initial facts, discussions and findings surrounding the occurrences; which include information gathered from witness statements, flight recorders, Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) Data, Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) data, and preliminary inspection of the accident sites and the wreckages.

Therefore, the investigations on these serious incidents are still ongoing and final reports on these occurrences will be released at the conclusion of these investigations.

The reports released by AIB included the serious incident involving Air Peace Limited B737-300 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BUK at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on May 15, 2019.

AIB also released the report on the serious incident involving the airline’s B737-500 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BRN at Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt on June 22, 2019.

Also released is the report on the serious incident involving Air Peace Limited B737-300 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQO at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on July 23, 2019.

AIB Probes ‘Serious Incident’ Involving Air Peace Plane

AIB

 

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) says it is investigating a serious incident involving an aircraft operated by Air Peace.

AIB’s Corporate Communications Executive, Stanley Olisa, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday, hours after the incident occurred.

The aircraft was said to have departed Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos in the morning for Owerri, the Imo State capital with 90 passengers and six crew members on board.

READ ALSO: Fire Guts Section Of Balogun Market

The flight crew reportedly declared an engine failure minutes later and subsequently made an air return to Lagos, landing safely while all occupants disembarked safely.

In its reaction, the airline explained that it had to abort its Lagos to Owerri flight which was already airborne when the pilot in command noticed a change in the parameter of one of the engines.

It added that the aircraft returned to base in line with its safety procedures.

Read the statement from AIB below:

Today at about 07:47 local time, our Lagos to Owerri flight, which was already airborne was aborted when the pilot in command noticed a change in the parameter of one of the engines.

He reported the incident, took precautionary measure and returned to base in line with Air Peace safety operational procedures.

The aircraft safely landed in Lagos at about 08: 06 local time. There were no injuries as the passengers were safely deboarded from the aircraft.

The pilot has reported the incident to appropriate authorities.

Air Peace apologises for the incident and assures its customers and other Nigerians that it continues to maintain high safety standards in its operations.

Signed,

Stanley Olisa

Corporate Communications Executive

South Africa Grants Air Peace Request To Commence Flight Operations

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the South African Government has granted request for the Nigerian Designated Airline, Air Peace to commence commercial flights to Johannesburg, South Africa.

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The confirmation was granted in the process of ascertaining the level of implementation of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and South Africa at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the 9th Session of the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission Summit in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday 27th September 2019.

The proprietor of Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema has also confirmed that the airline would commence operation as soon as possible to promote air travel between Nigeria and South Africa.

VIDEO: You Can’t Toy With Nigeria, Onyema Says As He Welcomes Nigerians From SA

 

The Air Peace aircraft which conveyed the second batch of Nigerians evacuated from South Africa landed at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos at 7:20 pm on Wednesday.

As the returnees disembarked from the plane, the airline’s CEO, Allen Onyema, welcomed each of them with a warm handshake.

After the returnees were profiled by immigration officials, some of them recount their ordeal.

Watch the video below…

Second Batch Of Nigerians From South Africa Arrive In Lagos

 

The second batch of Nigerians being evacuated from South Africa have arrived in Lagos.

The 314 returnees and the Head of Immigration and Consular Matters at Nigeria’s Consulate General in Johannesburg, Mr. Anthony Ogbe, had boarded the Air Peace flight and left South Africa around 3:00 pm on Wednesday.

They arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport around 7:20 pm and are currently waiting to be profiled by the immigration.


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Air Peace Boss Receives Standing Ovation At House Of Reps

Air Peace Flight Evacuating Nigerians From S.Africa Granted Landing Permit After Delay

About 319 Nigerians were initially billed to return on Tuesday in the wake of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

But their flight was delayed as a result of the airline not obtaining a landing permit on time.

Of the expected passengers, four were later dropped over documentation issues.

 

‘Won’t Go To Heaven With A Dime’

 

Prior to their return, a first batch of 187 Nigerians had been voluntarily evacuated and profiled according to their states.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the airline, Allen Onyema has been recognised for the gesture of using his aircraft to evacuate Nigerians for free.

The lawmakers invited Onyema to the Green Chamber where he was given a rousing welcome, as well as a standing ovation.

He was also recommended for a national award.

In his remarks, the Air Peace Chairman thanked the lawmakers for the honour, adding that his actions were spontaneous and he would do anything to evacuate even a single Nigerian.

“I did not do it spontaneously, nor did I do it for publicity, I had to mortgage my landing right in South Africa because I just got the landing right before the crisis.

“I did not give a damn, I never did, because I know that I will not go to heaven with any dime.

“I have never been so honoured in my life. You have brought tears to my eyes. I would not have been able to do this if the Federal Government did not allow me or assemble those people for me to evacuate,” he said.

I Never Expected Commendation Or Award, Onyema Tells Reps

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace airline, Allen Onyema on Wednesday told the House of Representatives that he never expected to receive a recommendation for a national award.

Onyema was invited to the green chambers and recommended for a national award, after he used his airline to freely evacuate Nigerians from South Africa, following the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in the country.

In his remarks, the Air Peace boss thanked the lawmakers for the honour, adding that his actions were spontaneous and he would do anything to evacuate even a single Nigerian.

“I did not do it spontaneously, nor did I do it for publicity, I had to mortgage my landing right in South Africa because I just got the landing right before the crisis.

“I did not give a damn, I never did, because I know that I will not go to heaven with any dime.

“I have never been so honoured in my life. You have brought tears to my eyes. I would not have been able to do this if the federal government did not allow me or assemble those people for me to evacuate,” he said.

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: Why Air Peace Is Evacuating Nigerians For Free – CEO

Onyema had earlier told Channels Television in an interview that he is using his airline to freely evacuate Nigerians from South Africa because he wants the world to see Nigeria respected as a nation

Speaking further in the interview, he noted that evacuation of foreigners from another country isn’t a good sign for the affected nation involved.

On Wednesday last week, the Air Peace airline evacuated no fewer than 185 Nigerians who indicate interest to return home as a result of the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

Another set of about 319 people are expected to return to the country today but the trip earlier suffered a setback as a result of landing permit.

Having resolved the issue and secured the permit for the plane to land in Johannesburg, Onyema said the South African authorities gave the airline an arrival time.

He insisted that it was not the first time he was making a contribution to the nation’s development and highlighted his role in restoring peace to the Niger Delta in the heat of militancy in the region.

Air Peace Boss Appears Before House Of Reps

Air Peace Boss, Allen Onyema at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
Air Peace Boss, Allen Onyema at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.

 

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an airline company, Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema is currently at the House of Representatives.

Onyema is present at the plenary following an invitation by the lawmakers.

The purpose of the invitation is to commend the airline boss over the humanitarian roles he played in the wake of xenophobic attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians in South Africa.

It is expected, as resolved by the House of Representatives that Onyema will be recommended for a national award.

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: Why Air Peace Is Evacuating Nigerians For Free – CEO

His appearance comes a day after members of the House recommended him for national honours.

Onyema made the headlines for positive reasons when he offered to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa for free following the xenophobic attacks that have crippled businesses owned by foreigners in the country.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila appealed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to honour the invitation of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for a full briefing.

The Speaker, however, faulted the minister over what he describes as his (Onyeama) refusal to obey the invitation of the committee, stressing that respect is reciprocal and vowed to take up the matter with President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Xenophobia: Why Air Peace Is Evacuating Nigerians For Free – CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline, Mr Allen Onyema, has explained why the company is offering free service in the evacuation of Nigerians in the wake of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Onyema told Channels Television in an interview on Tuesday that there was no personal motive in extending a helping hand as the gesture was only for the good of the Nigerian People.

“The motivation here is the fact that I want to see Nigeria respected as a nation,” he said while featuring as a guest on Politics Today.

READ ALSO: Reps Recommend Air Peace Chairman For National Award

The airline chief added, “It is unfortunate that a lot of people didn’t know who Allen Onyeama is; it’s not the first time I’ve been doing things like that.”

Air Peace Airline CEO, Allen Onyema.

On Wednesday last week, the airline evacuated no fewer than 185 Nigerians who indicate interest to return home as a result of the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

Another set of about 319 people are expected to return to the country today but the trip suffered a setback as a result of landing permit.

 

The End Of Militancy

Having resolved the issue and secured the permit for the plane to land in Johannesburg, Onyema said the South African authorities gave the airline an arrival time.

He insisted that it was not the first time he was making contribution to the nation’s development and highlighted his role in restoring peace to the Niger Delta in the heat of militancy in the region.

The Air Peace boss said, “I expended more than this pursuing the issue of the Niger Delta question when there was violent militancy in the Niger Delta. I was the one who brought non-violence education into this country for the first time in order to address the issue of violent militancy.

“Everybody says that I was the one who was instrumental in bringing the violent militancy down; it was because of my programme that made it possible for them (the militants) to agree to accept the amnesty in the first place and I was the one who trained over 30,000 of them who were registered.”

Onyema stated that he started the transformation in the region and sponsored repentant militants to South Africa before getting support from the oil companies in the region.

He noted that he spent “several millions of my money” going into the creeks to empower repentant militants in 2014.

On his recommendation by the House of Representatives for a national award, Onyema noted that he was not aware of the development before the interview.

He said, “I’m hearing the national honour from you, I’ve not heard it before. This is the first time I’m hearing something like that.”

Xenophobia: Air Peace Plane Leaves For South Africa At Midnight

 

 

The Air Peace Flight B777 will depart Nigeria at midnight of Wednesday to evacuate about 319 Nigerians from South Africa following the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in that country.

The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline, Mr Allen Onyema, confirmed the time to Channels Television on Tuesday during an interview on Politics Today.

“The pilots are there at the airport waiting for midnight to come. We pray that this time around, there won’t be any hitch.

“We have a list of about 319 Nigerians to be on that flight,” Onyema said hours after the airline secured a permit to land in Johannesburg.

READ ALSO: Air Peace Flight Evacuating Nigerians From S.Africa Granted Landing Permit After Delay

Since the outrage over the xenophobia in South Africa, the Nigerian government has made efforts to assist citizens willing to return home.

On Wednesday last week, over 185 Nigerians returned to the country aboard Air Peace flight MEN2759, after the airline offered to evacuate them free of charge.

Barely one week later, an attempt by the airline to repatriate another set of Nigerians suffered a setback over landing permit.

 

‘Don’t Come In Now’

Mr Onyeama noted that the issue had been resolved while they have gotten the permit to land in the South African city of Johannesburg.

He disclosed that they were ready to embark on the evacuation mission but the South African authorities gave them an arrival time.

The Air Peace boss said, “Since yesterday (Monday), we are ready to go and get out compatriots out of Johannesburg. The first hitch we encountered was the issue of landing permit into Johannesburg.

“We endured; the pilots remained at the airport waiting for the permit. When at about 4am (on Tuesday) they couldn’t get it, they went back to the hotel. We got a flight services company in the United Arab Emirates to interface with the South Africans to do it for us.”

“At about 3:00 this afternoon, they were able to get the landing permit for us then, of course, I directed that they should leave for South Africa immediately but the South Africans got back to us and said, don’t come in now.

“The initial was for us to get to South Africa some few hours after midnight or even now and come back to Nigeria in the early hours of the morning, but they said no that they would want us to come at about 8am their own time and that we should depart Johannesburg at 12noon their own time. So, that is why we are waiting,” he added.

Onyema spoke a day after South Africa’s special envoy, Mr Jeff Radebe, visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.

Radebe conveyed the message of his president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to the Nigerian leader, as well as an apology to Nigeria over the attacks in his country.

In his response, President Buhari described the attacks as unfortunate and pledged that relationship between Nigeria and South Africa “will be solidified”.